The Big Ten Tournament’s first game is in the books as Michigan knocked off Iowa 59-52 in Thursday opening game. The Wolverines survived a late rally by the Hawkeyes, who cut a big lead down to five with a minute to go. Iowa’s Cully Payne scored nearly half of hte Hawkeyes’ points with 25 points on 5 of 10 shooting from long range.
The Hawkeyes could never get over the hump, however. Michigan led this game throughout and got 22 points from Manny Harris and 14 points from DeShawn Sims. Michigan led by as many as 16 in the first half and held a 16 point lead with four minutes left before Iowa came storming back. Matt Gatens had five points during an 11-0 run to cut it to 57-52 with a minute to go. Iowa then had the ball and a chance to get closer, but missed four shots on one possession and couldn’t seal the deal.
While Payne was hot for the Hawkeyes, he received little help from his teammates. Iowa struggled to shoot the ball with any consistency from the field and missed several easy baskets in the paint. Coach Todd Lickliter also continued to face questions about his future in Iowa City. He had no immediate answers, but did state that any coaching change would not be based on his decision.
Michigan now moves on to face top seeded Ohio State at noon tomorrow in Indianapolis.